April 22, 2013 in Living with Autoimmune Disease
Angie Alt is wife, mother, world traveler & blogger. She’s also a warrior in the autoimmunity war. Angie confronts three autoimmune disorders each day, including Celiac Disease, with powerful management techniques like AIPaleo & the Paleolithic lifestyle. She blogs regularly about the emotional side of tackling autoimmunity, adopting Paleo, and how it impacts her, her family, & their way of life. You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.
I’ve been writing regularly for The Paleo Mom for a while now and in a few short weeks I will celebrate my first Paleo-versary. All that time I’ve been slowly healing, learning, and growing as a person. Along with my first few years as a parent and my time living in West Africa, this past year has been one of the most dramatic periods of personal growth in my life. The road from illness to health has deeply impacted my values . . . I’d go as far as saying that being sick with autoimmunity made me passionate about dirt.
It started with illness itself. I was deep in it. Deep, deep. Long nights in lonely hospital beds on three separate continents, hours upon hours in overburdened ERs, protracted, solitary waits in doctor’s offices . . . I had a lot of time to think. Naturally, I thought about illness, not just my own illness. I thought about why so many of us have gotten sick and why we can’t seem to get well. It did not take me long to understand that our “healthcare system” was more like a “sick care system.”
When I got a diagnosis, Celiac Disease, I wasn’t all that surprised that it was a food causing my problems. I would have never put my finger on it, but I’d already spent three years in Africa thinking about how food and water were the absolute foundation for global health. They are the common thread connecting all of us. I’d had this sneaking suspicion for quite some time that this common thread could also probably be the source of much of the illness. I was about to begin learning how they could also be the source of healing.
If the most nourishing foods could restore my health, they had to be produced in the most nourishing environments. The dirt itself had to be healthy. The conditions for the cows, chickens, pigs, and fish had to be clean and happy, if I wanted the nutrients in the meat to serve my body well. The vegetables and fruits couldn’t be covered in poisonous pesticides or pumped full of genetic modifications, if I expected the powerful vitamins and minerals in them to aid my recovery. It went beyond that though. The people growing and harvesting my food deserved safety and security on the job and a decent living too. If I knew them personally and could see they too enjoyed happy, healthy lives, I knew I could trust them to take special pride in their work and produce foods safe for me to eat. As I learned, my values started to change.
I am by no means 100% there yet, but more and more what I eat reflects my values. My plate shows the world what really matters to me. Healthy, well cared for animals, organic veggies and fruits raised in wholesome soil, farmers I know, trust, and am happy to help support . . . these are the things I have come to value as I’ve spent the last year healing and growing outside my former comfort zones.
I think we are in the middle of a rapidly growing food movement. We (especially those of us who have had health recoveries and can speak to the power of it) have an extraordinary opportunity to change how we, as a whole society, eat. This is our moment to speak up, raise awareness, and share how food can change our health and our communities. Changing how we eat, changes everything else . . . how we treat ourselves, our neighbors, our livestock, our water, our soil . . . our planet. I’m no longer apathetic about a subject that is so integral to everything. My hope is to raise my daughter to be part of a generation that won’t need to get sick before they get passionate about dirt.